Indiana County coroner moves to Allegheny County medical examiner's office

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Indiana County Coroner Michael A. Baker is the new operations manager for the Allegheny County medical examiner's office.

Mr. Baker, 55, said he is in the process of retiring from Indiana County, where he spent 22 years as chief deputy coroner and eight years as coroner. He began his new, $65,000-a-year job April 8, replacing Steve Pilarski, who was named deputy county manager.

Mr. Baker said he has submitted his retirement papers but remains coroner in Indiana while he and the county work out details surrounding unused sick and vacation days.

"It should have been done by now, but it will be done by the end of the month," he said. "I've already met with my chief deputy [Jerry Overman] about cases we have pending, and the transition is taking place."

Mr. Overman will serve as coroner until the November election. Mr. Baker's term ends at the end of the year but his name likely will remain on the primary ballot for re-election, which means the Republican Party will choose a candidate to replace him.

"I will tell you I have always been an investigator," Mr. Baker said. "One of the good aspects of this job is I get to supervise a team of investigators. I look forward to this."

Mr. Baker is coming into a fluid situation at the medical examiner's office, where Karl Williams has been serving as acting medical examiner since his five-year contract expired in 2010.

Additionally, there has been friction in the office between two groups of employees: forensic investigators, who are supposed to secure crime scenes, and the major crimes unit, which gathers evidence at crime scenes. Investigators complained to county officials that they aren't being used properly, and county manager William McKain is reviewing the situation.

County spokeswoman Amie Downs said Mr. McKain is drafting his report.


Ed Blazina: or 412-263-1470.


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